The Malta Independent 19 May 2022, Thursday

Beating regime spin

Noel Grima Sunday, 8 May 2022, 07:38 Last update: about 12 days ago

There is a series of posts on YouTube put up by the Ukrainian army which interview Russian soldiers who have been injured and caught prisoners and who are being cured by their Ukrainian captors.

In each interview the Russian soldier is handed a mobile and encouraged to call his mother. Many times this would be the first indication her son is alive as in most cases either the mother could get no information about her son from the Russian authorities or even had been wrongly informed her son was missing or even dead.

The aim of these taped and broadcast interviews was not just to inform the mothers their sons are alive but also to try and break down the impenetrable misinformation that the regime is surrounding the invasion of Ukraine as just a normal training exercise which the Russians are of course winning.

This interpretation will reach its climax tomorrow in the massive meticulously prepared ‘Victory March' in the Red Square in Moscow to commemorate the Victory over Nazism in World War 2 and this year the ‘Victory over Ukrainian Nazism'.

From St Petersburg to Vladivostok millions of Russians will watch the commemoration and swallow the regime’s spin. This violation of the right to be properly informed is in a way even more terrible than all the bombs that Russia has unleashed (though perhaps not more terrible than the rapes and gratuitous violence unleashed on innocent civilians).

This is why, we now can see, such meticulous attention has been paid to remove independent media (never amounting to much to tell the truth) from the airwaves and the news stands. Only the regime’s spin is allowed. The vast population of Russia is not allowed to access foreign news broadcasts. The only alternative is sites like YouTube but not many Russians are conversant with it. And meanwhile the regime has crowded YouTube with so many fake stories as your bury the rare nuggets of truth there may be.

This explains the series of interviews with wounded Russian soldiers and mother-son conversations verging on the highly emotional, so as to puncture the regime spin at people level. The hope is that slowly, slowly enough people start to disbelieve their government, especially when the children come back home in body bags and the lying camouflage comes off.

All the above underscores the extreme importance of free and unfettered media for democracy in any country, and also why some governments try so hard to undermine this right. The Russian regime is the worst in this respect but there are many others trying hard to get spin triumphing over unpalatable truth.

Here, in our small world, we get many constant attempts to hide the full implications of the truth, to give a very different interpretation, to play around and denigrate the Opposition, to skip unpalatable truths and news, sometimes even daring to censor the Pope when he gets too near the bone as PBS notoriously did, etc.

This highlights once again the absolute importance of a free media which can never be free enough. Again, the media can never be free enough unless protected by a free and unfettered Court of Law.

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